Sneaky baggage fees can easily compound the total cost of a trip, especially for families. The best thing you can do to avoid baggage fees is, obviously, avoid checked baggage. And the best way to do that? Pack light.
We all already know the benefits of packing light—less stuff to lug around and break our backs with, fewer things to keep track of, and of course, less to pay for. But many of us often engage in frenzy packing. “I’m going to need this. I should take this too just in case…” Before you know you it, you’ve packed away 3 jeans, 4 shirts, and two jackets for a 3 day trip.
Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can to break with the habit of frenzy packing and in effect, steer clear of airline fees.
Write a list
Write a list of everything you will need for your trip—the sooner the better. Writing a list forces you to think about the items you should and shouldn’t take. This is already an improvement over mindlessly opening drawers and stuffing your bags with anything that “looks” like a necessity. The sooner you write your list, the less likely you’ll be in a “time crunch” that often leads to frenzy packing in the first place.
Fold your clothes
Fold your clothes before packing them, don’t just stuff them. Clutter takes up more space. Think about your clothing dresser. Is it easier to close a drawer overflowing with clutter, or one that’s neat and organized? In my experience at least, it’s definitely the latter.
Organize items as you pack them into your bags. This goes along with folding rather than stuffing your clothing. Organized suitcases are advantageous for a host of reasons. If you’ll be traveling through customs, an organized suitcase will definitely come in handy if you’re selected for secondary screening. It will allow you to keep items that need to be declared separate from items that don’t.
Purchase a set of compressor bags
Purchase a set of compressor bags to maximize space in your suitcase. Compressor bags have one-way valves in them; you place your neatly folded clothing into a bag, zip it, and then squeeze (or roll) all of the air out. They are said to reduce volume from bulky clothing up to 80%. I don’t know about 80% but I have used them before and they did keep me from having to bring an extra bag. They are also useful when storing out-of-season clothing in your closet.
Wear extra clothes
Wear heavy or bulky clothing and/or layers of clothing on the day you travel. Don’t let a single jacket or a single pair of boots force you to bring an extra bag.
Bring less similar clothes
Realize that certain clothing items can be worn multiple times, successively, before needing to be washed—denim in particular. For this reason, you don’t need 7 pairs of jeans for a week long trip. You can get by about half that amount.
Choose the right sized bag
Your money saving efforts will be stopped dead in their tracks if your bag is too big (or too heavy) to bring as a carry-on. Be sure that your bag will make the cut. Amazon and eBags.com both have large selections of carry-on bags at affordable prices.
Purchase travel sized toiletries
Don’t bring “family” sized shampoo and conditioner for a trip only a few days long. If you’re traveling as a family, share these types of items so only 1 person will need to pack them. If you already own a jumbo pack of shampoo or something similar, another option is to pour only the amount you will need into a smaller container.
Don’t bring the stuff you buy during your trip, mail it!
Mail home souvenirs and other items you collect during your trip. It might be a drag to go to the post office while you’re on vacation, but postage is generally cheaper than airline baggage fees.